I had a friend recently ask how I knew God’s direction for my life. My answer is pretty simple…
I spend time with him.
The more time I spend – the more clear the direction and the more peace I have each season life brings. As Christ followers we know that God left everything we need to know about him, his will and his promises for us in a special love letter called the Bible. This is where he promises to meet us and speak to us. Sometimes this letter looks so big and sometimes the language so confusing (depending on the translation) that the thought of digging in can feel daunting. I want to share a simple tip to help you get started in experiencing the ways scripture can come to life … more importantly speak specifically to your life and your circumstances. I shared this method with a group of friends several weeks ago and it has been a joy to observe the aha moments happening in each of their hearts, souls and minds.
You will need a phone, ipad or computer. Notebook and good pen:) You’ll be doing a bit of writing so make sure you have a good pen.
Download the Biblegateway app on your computer or phone.
Each day this app will display a verse of the day.
Write the verse in your journal.
Look up the verses in 3 – 5 different versions and write them down in your journal.
Look back over the verses and underline words that bring clarity or cause you to ask futher questions.
Journal any thought that is prompted during this process. I have found the actual WRITING of the verses slows me down so I can HEAR what God is speaking to me. It forces me to pay attention to the words in a way I don’t when I am just reading the words. It lengthens the time I spend in His presence which increases the chances I will stick around long enough to hear his voice – for me. Each Saturday during lent I will post one verse from 5 different versions. I encourage you to get out a notebook and write them down.
NIV New International Version: The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads my beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his names sake.
AMP – Amplified Version: The Lord is my Shepherd ( to feed, to guide and to shield me), I shall not want. He lets me lie down in green pastures: He leads me beside still and quiet waters. He refreshes and restores my soul ( life); He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
TLB – The Living Bible : Because the Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need! He lets me rest in the meadow grass and leads me beside the quiet streams. He gives me new strength. He helps me do what honors him the most.
MSG- The Message: God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from. True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction.
TPT- The Passion Translation: The Lord is my best friend and my shepherd. I always have more than enough. He offers a resting place for me in his luxurious love. His tracks take me to an oasis of peace, the quiet brook of bliss. That’s where he restores and revives my life. He opens before me pathways to God’s pleasure and leads me along in his footsteps of righteousness so that I can bring honor to his name.
GO ahead… carve out some time. Write the words. Pray for the Holy Spirit to open you heart to what God wants to communicate with you.
And if you have an extra minute… I’d love to hear what he had to say.
loving you where you are and pointing your forward to where He is,
Matthew 17:20-21 ” I promise you, if you have faith inside of you no bigger than the size of a small mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move away from here and go over there,’ and you will see it move. ‘ There is nothing you couldn’t do.”
While vacationing in Colorado a friend of mine picked up 3 wood plaques with these words ” The Mountains are my happy place.” I’m sure she was in a rustic looking tourist shop at the end of a trail at a National park. I’m sure she was surrounded by beautiful mountains and may just have completed an invigorating climb up one of them. I’m sure she was feeling happy, content and satisfied as she enjoyed a week in the middle of Gods glorious creation. I’m also sure the reason she purchased those 3 plaques to give to 3 friends back in Missouri had nothing to do with the beauty all around her. I’m very sure it had everything to do with the mountain we were currently all climbing together called : The study of the book of Romans.
When we began this study – the teaching leader told us our year in this book would often times feel like a mountain climb. Challenging, intimidating, requiring discipline and determination to stick with it. She told us we may want to quit before we reach the top and made us promise to never give up. She told us it would be worth it. She told us the climb would strengthen our trust in our God who had created this particular Mountain for our good and his glory. Up we went.
As I move my way through life I have discovered that it is full of Mountains. Challenging, often seemingly insurmountable seasons that upon face value feel impossible. I woke up today feeling the weight of 3 of those mountains . These mountains encompass physical, financial and relational giants that today- felt crushing. Over the last hour I have focused on one verse- the Bible gateway verse of the day -1 Corinthians 10:13. TPT “We all experience times of testing ( MOUNTAINS) which is normal for every human being. But God will be faithful to you. He will screen and filter the severity, nature and timing of every test or trial so that you can beat it ( climb it) and each test ( MOUNTAIN) is an opportunity to trust him more and for along every trial GOD has provided a way of escape that will bring you out victoriously. My takeaways:
Every human will face trials. Every single one. The lie that I am alone in my mountain climb is just that – a lie. Someone in my world understands what I am going through.
God is completely aware of the trial(s) or Mountains I have been asked to climb. He Understands them better then us because he can see the end. He knows the areas of our life that need refining, strengthening and growth and also knows that it is through struggle that these traits will come.
God is with us in the climb. He promises to never leave us or forsake us. He promises to show us a way out, or up- whichever the case May be. He knows we can’t handle this mountain on our own and knows on our own we couldn’t possibly even begin the journey. He is suited up and ready to guide us through the season HE has allowed.
As I reflected on this verse I felt the weight lift. The mountains that were literally crushing my heart and soul were lifted. I pictured myself out from underneath the mountains and standing strong at the base of the mountains- eagerly looking up to the one who had already started up the trail. He was looking back, beckoning me on. He had a backpack full of all the answers to the questions I had. He would reveal them as I followed at the times he knew I needed them and not necessarily when I wanted them. Like a mother navigating the snacks packed for church. If she gave them all out in the car on the way the child would never make it through the entire service. Oh how my flesh wants all the snacks, all the answers right now. How good that God is the great trail blazer and knows best.
Did you wake up crushed by your mountain or did you wake up ready to climb?
If crushed – I encourage you to spend some significant time with your trail guide – Jesus. Look at his promises that will never fail. Look and look and look until you feel the weight lift.
If you are ready to climb- I encourage you to spend significant time with your trail guide- Jesus. Look and look and look until you surrender your strength to his. To have a confidence that HE is the strength giver and the way maker.
As I leave my time with Jesus today- I thank him for my mountains both present and those in the past. I remember his clear track record for past successful climbs and have an eager heart for the next ones. Oh Mountains…. you indeed are my happy place.
Loving you where you are and pointing you forward to where He is,
Matthew 16:21-22 “From then on Jesus began to clearly reveal to his disciples that he was destined to go to Jerusalem to SUFFER INJUSTICE from the elders, leading priests and religious scholars. He also explained that he would be killed and then three days later be raised to life again. Peter took him in hand, protesting ‘ Impossible master, that can never be!’ “
Such a strange verse to start this series off with don’t you think? As we begin this season of Lent – 6 weeks looooonnnnnnngggggg…. why am I starting here ? I’ve got plenty of time to cover the hard realities of Jesus death and resurrection – why couldn’t I start this series with something more fun – like the time he said YES to turning water in to wine at a wedding?? so much more celebratory!
The reason I’m starting here… is because if I don’t … I may never.
I’m a master at the art of re-framing. Give me any hard, negative, sad, obstacle of life and I can find a way to make it better – sweeter if you will. I have Mary Poppins like skills in delivering the medicine – you just need a big ole dose of sugar. Some say I’m the eternal optimist. Pain, challenges and conflict make me incredibly uncomfortable so if I can paint a rosier picture I feel I have made the world a better place… at least in my own my mind.
Almost 50 years of life has taught me this isn’t the healthiest way to live. You see my ability to ‘turn a frown upside down’ has landed me in the unfortunate position of needing to deal with mountains that would have stayed molehills if I faced the truth of the situation earlier. You name it – I can deny pain… my health, finances, relationships, rattles in the car…. Yep I’m a master.
And today Jesus says – it’s time to stop.
In Chapter 16 of Matthew Jesus gets clear, crystal clear with his disciples. I imagine him unblinkingly looking them each in the eye, no waver to his voice speaking the simple truth about his purpose for living. His most important act to come was not the life he would keep living but the death he would be dying. He would SUFFER INJUSTICE at the hands of the religious leaders??!! He knew his people needed to hear this from his mouth. Pretending like he would fulfill his purpose in the way they hoped (an earthly king, brining earthly peace) would do them a huge disservice. Just like starting our lenten series without calling out the elephant in the room would be a disservice to you and to me. From the start – I have to remember that Jesus was born to die. It would be brutal. It would be ugly. It would be unfair. It would be because of me and my sin. ouch. Nothing sweet about this story.
I have to wonder if Jesus straight talk was also for himself. Did his human flesh need the accountability of his reality with those he loved most? Did speaking it out loud not only clarify for his followers but his human heart his reason for coming to earth to walk with men? If Jesus needed straight talk to himself.. then certainly so do I.
Jesus show us the areas of our hearts that are coated in the sugar of denial because the “thing” feels too hard or too painful to address. Remind us that there is nothing too big for us to bring to the foot of your cross. Amen
Loving you where you are and pointing you forward to where He is,
As the new pastors wife I had been given a season of grace when we first arrived at the church Tom would serve. I was 7 months pregnant with our second child. Something about a woman with a bulging belly and a 2 year old on her hip that sends the message ‘give the lady some space.’ After Jonah was born and it must have appeared on the outside that I was navigating the move into a new community, new baby and 2 1/2 year old fairly well….I got the first ask.
“Beth – the ladies group felt you would do a beautiful job leading our cradle roll. Would you like the packet of information so you can get started?”
Now- I knew enough about this fantastic ministry to new moms that I simultaneously affirmed IT was wonderful yet me leading IT was NOT. It involves sending prepared cards and encouragement to new moms on regular, planned intervals celebrating different milestones in their new babies life. What a beautiful, important ministry right? But for me – wrong. Friends- lets be clear – my own family doesn’t get birthday cards on time- why in the world would I think this would be a good spot to serve? I knew that a YES would actually end in future disappointment to the ladies group because I would not fulfill the requirements of the job. So with a smile and a thank you for thinking of me…. I replied “No Thank You.”
I’m very certain I left the woman a bit surprised and possibly offended by my response.
The last pastors wife did it….. so why wouldn’t I? Oh the guilt.
This was the first of several ‘no thank you’s’ I dished out my first year at this congregation… including not singing in the choir or teaching children’s Sunday School. I was rocking some boats to be sure. Despite the feathers I may have ruffled ( wow – rocked boats and ruffled feathers- gasp) at church I was protecting something much more important – my ability to serve my family in a season that required much physical and emotional strength. Tom and I had recently made the decision that I would be a full time stay at home mom which meant a lighter schedule for me to be more present with my babies. I was saying No to income, No to much adult interaction and NO to professional stimulation so I could say Yes to energy, time and focus on the 3 little people that now filled our extra bedrooms.
Since that important day some 20 years ago, the day I said NO to protect my bigger YES…I have had an up close and personal view into the struggle that many woman have with the word NO. For the last 15 years I have invested countless hours coaching female entrepreneurs as well as raising children with other mommas that wrestle with the guilt that often accompanies the word ” NO.”
Here are several phrases I’ve seen swimming through the minds of woman.
“I SHOULD do it.”
“What will people think if I dont?”
“What will people think if I do?”
“I’m a stay at home mom so I’ve got more time.”
“I’m a work outside of the home mom so I’ve got more income.”
“I don’t want to burden my hard working husband so I should really be home at bedtime, or on a Saturday…”
The reality of all of these statements is that there is a slice of truth in each of them… but just that … a slice… not the whole.
As I built my business from my home while managing a household of 5 the ability to say NO became even more important.
No to attending every single one of my 3 children’s sporting events, friends birthday parties, or school field trips. I did some – but not all. No to leading a women’s bible study at church that both filled my cup and those of the participants. No to home cooked meals every night.
When I walked through Target with my 3 littles I was a constant stream of No’s. Mom – can I get this stuffed animal? Mom – can we get a snack? Mom – can we go down the toy isle again?.
NO. NO. NO.
The interesting thing about all of the above No’s is that they often opened up to doors for future better Yes’s.
Not attending all my childrens events – created opportunities for an excited play by play from them after the fact. I often felt like the story telling was more exciting than the story living.
Not leading the women’s bible study at church freed up the spot for multiple other competent leaders to use their teaching and leadership gifts.
Not cooking every night opened up creative meal planning and prepping from both Tom and the kids.
Now writing a blog like this can be tricky. It can come off as prescriptive and preachy – both things I really despise and exactly the opposite of what I hope to communicate. There is one thing though… one truth I want to point you to … and it has nothing to do with your decisions to stay home with children or work outside the home. It has nothing to do with how many nights you cook a home cooked meal or how many organizations you support with volunteer hours. It has nothing to do with how elaborate the birthday parties are you or do not throw for your children .
No thank you.
My desire is to point you and me….
He is the one who wants to be the fuel for our decisions, the wisdom for our questions, the strength to stand for what he tells us to do – even when the peanut gallery tells us otherwise. James 1:5 says “If you want to know what God wants you to do, ASK him, and he will gladly tell you, for he is ready to give a bountiful supply of wisdom to all who ask him. He will not resent it.” My passion as I mentor women in business or teenagers making decisions about their future, or young moms deciding to nurse or bottle feed… is to help them / me/ you to trust that we have a God that knows our best Yes’s which means we will have to say some hard no’s. He modeled this when he sent his son Jesus to turn a world upside down with the truth of his love in Just 33 short years on earth. Even though he was God – he walked on earth in a human body with all the physical limitations that come with it.
The Savior of the world showed us the power of NO. He left his posse when he needed time alone. He moved on to different cities while there were still sick to be healed. When people asked him to JUMP – he did not say ” How high?” but “let me check with my Father.” He did nothing outside of His Fathers will. Jesus was clear on his mission, which gave him clarity on how to use his time. This gave him the confidence to give hard yes’s and no’s to those around him – especially in the weeks leading up to his death on the cross. Something funny about a hard, fast deadline – our vision narrows, the fog clears and we get on it – whatever that it is. Jesus “it” was to complete the race he had been given to run where the last mile was death on a cross and the victory lap was done outside of his burial tomb.
I will use the next 6 weeks to prepare my heart for Easter Sunday ( the point of Lent – did you know that?). I’m going to take a look at Jesus’ Yes’s and his NO’s. I want to learn from his life and his words and his wisdom. I invite you to join me ….. and of course you can always say…
No Thank You:)
“Come get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”JESUS . Matthew 11:28-30 MSG